I visited two classes at Homma Elementary in February to introduce oral storytelling using materials to inspire stories that consider the First Peoples Principles of Learning.
Carrie Bourne and her grades 4&5 French Immersion students have been using loose parts to represent ideas. We combined their collection of loose parts with a table full of natural materials and fabrics to create story settings, paying attention to the big ideas of self, place and the power of story. We first came together in a circle and the students shared some of their thinking about stories. We discussed big ideas around immigration (a focus of what they were studying in Social Studies) and made connections to books they have been reading about Indian Residential Schools, like Shi-shi-etko by Nicola Campbell (which is available en francais). Students shared their ideas about coming, going, leaving, arriving, connecting and dis-connecting with a focus on place. Students could choose to work by themselves or with a partner, as they created stories, inspired by the materials.
After about an hour of the class circle and creating their stories, we asked the students to share their stories with another classmate or partnership. As students orally “rehearse” their stories, they are playing with ideas and language, synthesizing the theme or message their story. The students then captured their story using iPad technology by taking still photographs and using the app 30Hands to orally narrate their stories.
Here are two video clips students practicing their stories:
And here are some of the students’ stories that the captured using 30Hands and then posted to their Fresh Grade portfolios:
In Peter Ritchie’s grades 6&7 classroom, we began by watching a short video of Dr. Jo-Ann Archibald telling the story of Lady Louse (can be found HERE). We asked the students to pay attention to her storytelling technique and the students shared their observations about how she used her hands, varied the use of her voice and how she repeated the theme or message of the story in different ways throughout the story. They also noted how the story didn’t have a typical resolution in stories like they are familiar with, but left you thinking.
Peter had collected various plants and mosses from his brother’s property in Squamish and the students used these along with various other materials to create settings for their stories. We discussed the importance of creating an authentic environment and if they were using animals in their stories, to consider the place of the animal within the ecosystem.
Many of the students were aware of animals portraying values or metaphors in stories from different cultures and we referred to the book Sharing Our World, for students to consider animals they might want to include in their stories. Possibly inspired by the materials presented them, many of the students’ stories involved environmental themes. I noticed the students at this age (and also very fluent with using iPad technology) were focused on creating detailed settings and used different camera angles and backgrounds to make sure there weren’t distracting items or people in their photos. As with Carrie’s class, they used the 30Hands app to load their photos and narrate their stories.
The following are some of the students stories:
On the February 19th professional development day, the staff led a morning of looking at teaching and learning through the First Peoples Principles of Learning, and storytelling with materials was something that the staff engaged in themselves.
I’m looking forward to hearing many more stories from Homma Elementary!